Spotlight Exclusives

Romney Wants to Run on Poverty

Spotlight Team Spotlight Team, posted on

Political pundits are having a field day speculating on how big the pool of Republican presidential candidates might grow over the next months, and Mitt Romney۪s unexpected toe in the water has understandably gained considerable attention by 2016 campaign prognosticators. Of keen interest to Out of the Spotlight and others is Romney۪s apparent view that running on a poverty plank is itself a good reason to make a third try for the White House.

If Romney dives into the campaign with position statements and plans for those struggling to make ends meet, it will be quite a flip. After all, in the 2012 campaign that Romney lost, he:

– Infamously commented about the “47 percent” of Americans who pay no (federal) income tax and noted that these are people who are “dependent upon government” and believe they are “victims” who are “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it;”

– Publically asserted that “corporations are people;” and

– Muzzled the anti-poverty themes of his running mate, Paul Ryan.

Why has Mitt Romney decided to make poverty a pillar of his politics? There are multiple theories:

– A 2016 campaign would enable him to run true to himself, which includes a concern for those who are less fortunate;

– A third campaign requires some new top level themes and poverty distinguishes this campaign from those before it; and

– A bid in 2016 will enable him to turn a 2012 issue weakness into a strength.

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity was born during the 2008 Presidential election to promote candidate attention to poverty. Over these years, OOTS has been witness to political periods in which “poor” was a four-letter word and “poverty” became invisible. During campaign seasons, neither party was consistently immune from such politics.

However, in the aftermath of the Great Recession and the last election, we seem to have entered a new political presidential campaign era. Both parties have opened their eyes. In a recent Wall Street Journal article headlined GOP Hopefuls۪ 2016 Theme Has a New Pitch, Patrick O۪Connor wrote, “Several Republicans eyeing presidential bids in 2016 are tackling policy questions not typically identified as conservative priorities, including wage stagnation and aid for the poor, an early bid to address a political weakness that helped sink the party۪s last White House nominee.”

OOTS believes that a Romney platform about “the scourge of poverty,” as he puts it, deserves all the headline splash it can get. We hope, and expect, to see poverty rise in the position statements of presidential candidates and the planks of political parties. This uptick in discourse around poverty and opportunity is necessary but insufficient. Along with the talk, this campaign season should also be flooded with poverty policy details that truly delineate one candidate from another.

Posted by Jodie
Here at Out of the Spotlight, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the latest news and information essential to anyone working to fight poverty. From key political appointees to clashes over policy, we cover the news that doesn’t always make the evening news. Check out Out of the Spotlight for our take on the twists and turns of the latest political developments and their impact on poverty reduction. Topics and ideas are welcome! Just contact or

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